Delta strengthens into a hurricane, forecast to make landfall along the central Gulf Coast

Delta strengthens into a hurricane, forecast to make landfall along the central Gulf Coast

Tropical Storm "Delta" strengthened into a hurricane at 00:00 UTC on Tuesday, October 6, 2020, becoming the 9th hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season. Only 3 other Atlantic seasons in the satellite era, since 1966, have produced 9 or more hurricanes by October 5 -- 1995, 2004 and 2005.

  • Delta is strengthening on its way toward the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, and is expected to produce dangerous storm surge and hurricane conditions within portions of the northern Yucatan Peninsula beginning Tuesday night (LT).
  • According to the NHC, heavy rainfall will affect portions of Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, western Cuba, and the northern Yucatan Peninsula during the next few days. This rainfall could lead to significant flash flooding and mudslides. Tropical storm conditions are expected in portions of the Cayman Islands beginning early Tuesday.
  • Delta is forecast to approach the northern Gulf Coast late this week as a hurricane. While there is large uncertainty in the track and intensity forecasts, there is an increasing risk of dangerous storm surge, wind, and rainfall hazards along the coast from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle beginning Thursday night or Friday. Residents in these areas should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and monitor updates to the forecast of Delta.
  • The system is forecast to make landfall along the central Gulf Coast late this week. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is currently tied with the 1916 Atlantic hurricane season for most continental US named storm landfalls in a season on record -- 9 landfalls.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect from Tulum to Rio Lagartos, Mexico, and Cozumel. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from the Cayman Islands, including Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, Cuban province of Pinar del Rio, Isle of Youth, Punta Herrero to Tulum, and Rio Lagartos to Progresso. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the Cuban province of La Habana.

Hurricane "Delta" at 07:00 UTC on October 6, 2020. Credit: NOAA/GOES-16, RAMMB/CIRA

At 09:00 UTC on October 6, the center of Hurricane "Delta" was located about 265 km (165 miles) SSE of Grand Cayman. The system had maximum sustained winds of 140 km/h (85 mph) and a minimum central pressure of 974 hPa.

Delta is moving WNW at 11 km/h (7 mph) and is expected to pass southwest of the Cayman Islands this morning (LT), approach the northeastern portion of the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Yucatan Channel tonight. 

Additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next day or so, and Delta is expected to be a major hurricane when it nears the Yucatan Peninsula.

Delta is forecast to move over the southern Gulf of Mexico early Wednesday, and be over the south-central Gulf of Mexico late Wednesday and Thursday.

Tropical Storm "Delta" at 21:40 UTC on October 5, 2020. Credit: NOAA/GOES-16, RAMMB/CIRA

While there is large uncertainty in the track and intensity forecasts, there is an increasing risk of dangerous storm surge, wind, and rainfall hazards along the coast from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle beginning Thursday night or Friday, October 9, NHC forecasters said. Residents in these areas should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and monitor updates to the forecast of Delta.

A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 1.2 to 2 m (4 to 7 feet) above normal tide levels along the coast of the Yucatan peninsula within the hurricane warning area, near and to right of where the center makes landfall. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves.

Tropical storm conditions are expected in the Cayman Islands later this morning. In the Yucatan Peninsula, hurricane conditions are expected in the warning area tonight, with tropical storm conditions expected later today.

Tropical storm conditions are expected in the tropical storm warning area tonight and Wednesday.

In Cuba, tropical storm conditions are expected tonight in the warning area and possible in the watch area near the same time.

Delta is expected to produce 100 to 150 mm (4 to 6 inches) of rain, with maximum rainfall as high as 250 mm (10 inches) possible, across portions of the northern Yucatan Peninsula through mid-week.

This rainfall may result in areas of significant flash flooding, NHC warned.

50 to 100 mm (2 to 4 inches) of rain, with isolated higher amounts, are expected across portions of Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and western Cuba through midweek. This rainfall may result in areas of flash flooding and mudslides.

Later this week and into the weekend, Delta is expected to bring heavy rainfall across portions of the central Gulf Coast into the southeastern United States.

Featured image: Tropical Storm "Delta" at 21:40 UTC on October 5, 2020. Credit: NOAA/GOES-16, RAMMB/CIRA

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